Loosen your belts: National Chocolate Week is upon us. We bring you the best of the blogosphere’s odes to the sweet stuff.

It’s the one we’ve all been waiting for. National Chocolate Week is here to remind us to celebrate the humble cocoa bean in all its many glorious guises. Sure, some of us may not actually require a dedicated week to remember to demonstrate our appreciation. But since this is a week to rejoice in the sixth food group’s joys and revel in the fact that some chocolate is even currently being rebranded as healthy, we usher you round some of the very finest tips and recipes from the bloggers who dedicate their lives to eating the stuff (yes, that really is a job and, yup, we’re in agonies of envy too). Here’s our pick to sweeten your day.

Mostly About Chocolate
Judith Lewis, the journalist behind award-winning blog, Mostly About Chocolate, occasionally turns her hand to wine and cocktails, but it’s the sweet stuff that really rocks her world. Winningly, whilst her reviews are always discerning, there is no undercurrent of snobbery to be detected here; sure, she loves Paul A Young’s legendary sea salt caramel, but equally she’d never turn her nose up at a packet of Maltesers – and she actively eschews rarefied expert terms, preferring instead simple a ‘good’ or ‘bad.’



The format could do with a lift, but the content is informed and instructive; anyone searching for really excellent chocolate for themselves or as a gift, need look no further than her ‘top-notch’ section on the side bar (the Askinosie chocolate bars sound particularly dreamy). We also love her recipe section, an edit of chocolate-based dishes and treats from around the web that Lewis has tried and tested. Who could possibly resist Bailey’s Irish Cream Ultimate Hot Chocolates?

The Chocolate Society
If anyone knows their cocoa beans, it’s the good folk at The Chocolate Society. Its mission statement? ‘To showcase chocolate as good as it can possibly be as fresh and skilfully handmade, with imaginative flavours that will surprise and delight you’. In other words, a vocation we find that can get fully behind. Based in Somerset, the society was founded in 1991 by a trio of friends with a shared dream to deliver better quality chocolate. These days, its steadfast calling is under the auspices of chef Alasdair Garnsworthy, whose perfectionism has garnered the company a constellation of stellar awards.



Hot blog topics range from why the true aficionado shakes their hot choc, right through to competitions to win a year’s supply of artisan-made sweet stuff. We would enter, but we’re too bust drooling over Garnsworthy’s Most Delicious Chocolate Brownies With Blonde Chocolate. Insanely good.

Luisa’s Vegan Chocolates
For the ecologically and sustainably minded chocoholic, Nottingham-based Luisas Vegan Chocolates’ blog deserves serious plaudits. Her objective, since she opened her small shop in 2018, is to create excellent quality sweet stuff using directly sourced cacao beans while working with communities in the South Pacific islands from whence they hail: the Solomon Islands, Madagascar, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines, Vanuatu, Makira, and Bougainville. She works directly with farmers to ensure that everyone is paid a fair price, which can then be ploughed back into both community and the business.



What’s more, she sources only from farmers using multi-crop methods, which results in no deforestation while, back at home, she’s working towards becoming a zero-waste operation. It’s ethical credentials are, then, impeccable, but what of the chocolate itself? Relinquish any scepticism about how vegan virtue might score below par in the taste department: even in the business’s infancy, Luisa’s products are already pulling in the awards, including Gold for her 92% Philippines chocolate bar, and a gong for UK Rising Star Award. If you’re lucky enough to be local, you can drop in for tasting events, but for those who can’t, her blog details her travels to South Pacific; her hard-won awards and her newest products (casholate, anyone?). There are, alas, no recipes to see here yet, but Luisa is clearly on a roll; who knows what inventive additions are yet to come. One to watch.

Ombar Blog
Good news for those most committed chocoholics in our midsts; Ombar is busy redefining chocolate as a health food. That’s right. No more guilt as you polish off a family bar in front of a Sunday night drama for it is, we reason, doing us actual good. (Caveat: that doesn’t apply to every – or indeed most – confections. A Mars Bar a day is still, we’re afraid to say, not likely to keep the doctor away.) But for chocolate-makers like Ombar, it’s a different story. Vegan, natural and minimally processed, Ombar keeps its cacao raw so as to retain as much of the good stuff – cacao has some 300 natural compounds – as possible.



It all began in Cambridge in 2007, when three friends – Richard, Mike and Jim – began a quest for a healthier chocolate bar, which they named to reflect their shared love of yoga. The blog is packed full of absurdly delicious recipes using Ombar products. Who could possibly resists these vegan pancakes with drizzled chocolate? Or this instructional video for making vegan caramel slices with Ombar? As these guys attest, not all chocolate is created equal.

Chocolate Covered Katie
This stellar food blog hails from across the pond and, since its fledgling days, the eponymous Chocolate Covered Katie has featured in or on The Today Show, USA Today, Time, CNN, The Food Network, Bon Appétit, Cooking Light and People Magazine. She’s also been hailed as the next Nigella, a comparison not unaided by the release her best-selling cookery book. Our very favourite thing about her? She opens her ‘about’ page by saying that she eats chocolate every day and sometimes even has cake for breakfast. Our kind of gal.



Her blog’s index of recipes is easily navigable between breakfast and dinner ideas on the left-hand tab and healthy desserts on the right. And since this is chocolate week, and the words ‘dessert’ and ‘healthy’ in the same sentence frankly make our heart sing, it is to the right we swerve here. There are many, many things to make you smile here, but who could not fall head-over-heels for these homemade M&Ms, which she recommends eating by the handful (is there any other way)?

Dessert for Two
Texan personal chef, Christina Lane, is here to help you gain ten pounds. That’s the promise on her slick blog, Dessert for Two’s introductory video, which also sees her gadding about food markets and grocery stores, looking distinctly – suspiciously – like someone who has not gained an ounce despite whipping up a mountain of confections, from these show-stopping Oreo balls to ridiculously good-looking chocolate chip cookie bars on the regular.



She also cooks excellent savoury dishes as evidenced by her growing collection of cookery books but since this is chocolate week, we’re making a beeline for the desserts. Which is exactly what Christina did in the beginning, when she first launched her blog with the idea of creating scaled down, small-batch sweet treats that could be gobbled up by just two people in a night, rather than having to make stacks that would hang around to tempt for days. We love her videos too – Nutella rapberry martini, anyone?

OMG Chocolate Dessert
Trained lawyer Vera began blogging about food in 2013, as a means to save all her favourite recipes, collected from across the web. That simple ambition morphed to become an expression of her love for the sweet stuff (though savoury numbers feature too). Before she knew it, her hobby became her dream day job; cooking, frequently with chocolate, from home while her kids ran about under her feet.



She categorises her recipes by sweet and savoury, as well as having a special section for holidays (how cute are these spider cookies for Halloween?). We’re straight off to the kitchen to try our hands at these chocolate peanut butter Cheerio cups, which purport to contain only five ‘healthy’ ingredients. Alright Vera, we’re willing to suspend disbelief on that one, just for you.

READ MORE:

Spiced Chocolate Orange Date Balls
Sweet and Salty Puddings
The Hummingbird Bakery

October 2019

By Nancy Alsop